Subjects: Finding them is easy

Overview: 

identification of subjects

Grade Level: 
Grades 3-5
Grades 6-8
Grades 9-12
Class Time Needed: 
1 hour
Lesson Plan: 

These two exercises allow students to identify subjects in sentences. Both exercises uncover unconscious knowledge that native English speakers have about subjects. In the sentences in (1)-(5), the auxiliary (helping) verb moves to precede the subject from the (a) to the (b) version. In the sentences in (6)-(10), the pronoun that appears in the tag question always refers back to, and therefore identifies, the subject. These processes (subject-auxiliary inversion and tag question formation) are, therefore, very good tests for identifying subjects.

(1) a. The rat will sit on the wall. b. Will the rat sit on the wall?

(2) a. The teacher can ride the bus. b. Can the teacher ride the bus?

(3) a. It is really hot outside. b. Is it really hot outside?

(4) a. The giant could chase Jack. b. Could the giant chase Jack?

(5) a. Jack was chased by the giant. b. Was Jack chased by the giant?

Describe what's happening from the (a) versions to the (b) versions in (1)-(5)?

(6) a. The rat will sit on the wall. b. The rat will sit on the wall, won't she?

(7) a. The teacher can ride the bus. b. The teacher can ride the bus, can't he?

(8) a. It is really hot outside. b. It is really hot outside, isn't it?

(9) a. The giant could chase Jack. b. The giant could chase Jack, couldn't he?

(10) a. Jack was chased by the giant. b. Jack was chased by the giant, wasn't he?

Describe what's happening from the (a) versions to the (b) versions in (6)-(10)?